A Pet Theft Taskforce will be launched in Milton Keynes next month to help combat the rise in animal crime.
The force, which has been launched by the MK Conservatives, will investigate what is contributing to the rise in dognapping, raising awareness of the crime, and recommending solutions to reverse the rising trend in animal crime.
It will be made up of officials from Thames Valley Police and Milton Keynes Council as well as local pet charities, vets, animal welfare groups, and community representatives.
The MK Conservatives say that statistics from DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog thefts, recorded a 170% increase in the crime in 2020.
While a Freedom of Information request from The Kennel Club showed approximately 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, averaging at nearly 200 dogs stolen each month.
The was one report of a dog being stolen in Milton Keynes by an opportunist but it was later reunited with its owner following a social media campaign.
And earlier this week, Milton Keynes made national headlines after an international puppy smuggling ring was jailed for a total of 18 years.
These individuals had been capitalizing on the high prices of puppies, which can go for as much as £3,000 each, and were breeding them in poor conditions.
As a result of this, The MK Conservatives say that animal crime will also be a focus for the task force.
It has recently put forward a recommendation that will create a new offence for “pet abduction”, which could carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said:
"The shocking animal crimes reported last week show that this is an issue in MK and one that councillors of all parties should work on to address, rather than ignore.
"From September, we will be working hard on local solutions to tackle this problem and raise awareness of the disgraceful increase in animal crimes.”